Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians seems obsessed with speed. He pretty much ignores any receiver who runs anything higher than a 4.5 40. He looks for speed in almost all his players. But then the Cardinals drafted cornerback Harlan Miller, who does not have great speed. The sixth rounder out of Southeastern Louisiana ran only a 4.65 40.
Arians isn't concerned.
"If you look at his numbers, he ran faster than Richard Sherman and Josh Norman - long, tall guys that play pretty good in this league," Arians told reporters at rookie camp (via AZCardinals.com). "So his numbers kind of equated to theirs. Everybody is looking for a 4.3, 4.4, but he plays so fast. In his defense, he's coming from somewhere he didn't train for the 40-yard dash. But he plays really fast. At the Senior Bowl nobody ran past him."
Arians bringing up the name Sherman is not likely a coincidence. Miller is a big Sherman fan. Back at the NFL Scouting Combine, he was asked about being a fan of another small school cornerback -- Malcolm Butler. Miller said he didn't look up to Butler, despite being a good player. "Sherman's my favorite corner," he said.
Miller might not have the straight-line speed, but he makes up for it with the ability to do a number of other things.
In coverage, he is comfortable playing press man. He played "a lot of press man" in college.
He also is not afraid to get his nose dirty in run support.
Special teams? He has a lot of experience there, too.
"I was the primary punt returner," he said during the Combine. "I played a lot my freshman year. My sophomore year, I played gunner, jammer, I was a safety valve on kickoff."
The Cardinals focused on special teams in the later rounds of the draft. They focused on the defensive backfield. Miller had production in his first weekend with the team. He picked off two passes.
He can produce. He can play special teams. He can play press man. He will tackle ball carriers. He just doesn't have elite speed. He sounds like a player who will stick around in the league for a while.